Movement & Animations in Apple’s iOS 7 Could Exacerbate Migraine Symptoms

Users who have upgraded to Apple’s iOS 7 for mobile devices, like iPhones and iPads, are reporting dizziness, nausea, and headache caused by the motion of the operating system’s animations. The zooming, sliding, parallax and other movements are particularly problematic for people with vestibular disorders and some neurological disorders (like migraine), but healthy people are also lodging complaints.

Currently, the only solution is to not upgrade to iOS 7 and not buy a new iPhone or iPad. If you’ve already upgraded or purchased a new device, you can lessen the movement by changing the accessibility setting to “reduce motion” (Settings > General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion)*. This will only stop the parallax motion, not the zooming and sliding. It is no longer possible to downgrade your phone to iOS 6. I learned these things firsthand and have resorted to closing my eyes whenever launching or switching apps, opening and closing folders, sending text messages, or working in email.

The only long-term solution is for Apple to change it’s accessibility settings so that it doesn’t make users feel sick. This will only happen if users let them know the motion is a problem. If you’ve had your symptoms exacerbated by the upgrade, please email accessibility@apple.com to explain which animations are problematic for you and ask how to disable them. Let them know if you’ve already tried the “reduce motion” setting and it was not helpful for you. If you’ve decided not to upgrade because of motion issues, it’s just as important to let them know that you will upgrade (or buy a new device) when they’ve made the software usable for people who are sickened by the motion.

Apple has a history of being committed to accessibility, so I’m hopeful they will right this problem now that they’re aware of it. It helps that this issue has gotten national and international coverage, including a Jimmy Kimmel sketch last night. Unfortunately, most of the coverage says that changing the accessibility setting to “reduce motion” fixes the problem, even though that only stops the parallax, not the other movement. That’s right, the “solution” Apple currently has available and is telling the media about doesn’t actually solve the problem.

So, it’s up to us, the users made sick by the unnecessary sliding and zooming, to let Apple know the extent of the problem. Send the accessibility department an email and talk about it on Twitter and Facebook. If you’re up for it, comment on news articles that claim the “reduce motion” setting is a fix or email or tweet those reporters. The wider and faster the word spreads, the quicker we’ll see a real solution.

*The “reduce motion” setting is only available on the iPhone 4S and newer. Thanks to readers Randy Sarah and Annie for helping figure that out.

10/24/13: Apple has released an update to iOS 7 with a greatly improved “reduce motion” setting. Once you upgrade to iOS 7.0.3, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion to turn on the setting.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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